Bride-to-be Ashley Blanchard was clearly in a bind. Her wedding was coming up and a bridal party that seemed set last fall when she got engaged had been shaken up over the summer. Now, two of the five women were no longer involved, including the maid of honor, a lifelong friend, she said, who wasn’t comfortable with a wedding she considered to be too big. “We’ve parted ways for now,” she says.
Blanchard, 25, of the Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove, Minn., Needed some hands-on help and hand-holding. So she responded to a posting in June on Craigslist for Bridesmaid for Hire, an idea hatched by New Yorker Jen Glantz , an experienced bridesmaid (four times so far this year alone) who hopes to take what she’s learned and use it to help brides in need of a professional.
“Being a bridesmaid can strain a relationship,” says Blanchard, who has never held the “job” herself. “I’ve heard from some of my friends who have been a bridesmaid and they complain about what the bride is doing. After the wedding is done, they never speak again.”.
Although Glantz, 26, isn’t a BFF or even an acquaintance of Blanchard’s, her role when Blanchard marries Nathan Bosquez, 27, a chemical engineer, will be akin to a personal assistant, or, in bride talk, what some call a personal attendant.
The position, says Anja Winikka, site director for the New York City-based wedding website TheKnot.Com, is usually filled by someone not overly close with the bride but special enough to help out on the big day — usually a “person that doesn’t fit with the bridal party but is super special to you.”.
She says such attendants are often an older cousin, an aunt or a friend who may not be acquainted with the more intimate circle of bridesmaids or groomsmen. Other experts say they’re often listed in the wedding program and may be included in some wedding photos, but they typically do not take center stage with the bridal party on the altar and don’t wear the bridesmaid dress.
Glantz, a copywriter, has big plans for her business, which she’s trademarked. She offers a variety of services starting at $199 — which gets you virtual advice — to more than $1,000, for which she’ll participate in the ceremony, as she’ll do for Blanchard. They are still negotiating the fee for this first venture, but Glantz says client costs are stated up front in the contract.
“There’s nobody else in the wedding party trained to know how to deal with the challenges and the obstacles that a bride faces during her wedding,” says Glantz.
Part of the appeal of hiring a professional bridesmaid, says Glantz, is that it allows the wedding coordinator to focus on the venue details rather than be distracted by a jittery bride. (Blanchard didn’t hire a wedding coordinator because the venue had someone on staff.) And a “professional” among the ranks means the bridesmaids don’t have so many day-of responsibilities, Glantz adds.
Lizzie Post, of Burlington, Vt., The great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post, says asking a friend or acquaintance to serve as personal attendant may strain a relationship.
“It would be very easy for a personal attendant to feel stepped upon and used,” says Post, co-author of the latest edition of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, out earlier this year. “I love the idea of someone like that to offer to help the bride in this way, especially if the bridesmaids are very far away.”.
Glantz plans to train others to be professional bridesmaids and says she has been approached about turning her enterprise into a book, reality TV show or a movie.
Blanchard says, “She’s there to take care of me and anything I need for the wedding. She’s going to be my right-hand girl the whole day.”.